Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mmm... thanks

"Mammograms are really sort of a gift. You can either catch something early or count your lucky stars because nothing was discovered. Either way, you're ahead of the game." Charlotte Ross

The recent celebrations involving thousands of turkeys led me to ask Uncle Google what the origins of this holiday were. He told me that it all started when a group of Pilgrims left Plymouth, England, on September 6, 1620. Their destination? The New World. Although filled with uncertainty and peril, it offered both civil and religious liberty.
For over two months, the 102 passengers braved the harsh elements of a vast storm- tossed sea. Finally, in late November, with firm purpose and a reliance on Divine Providence, the cry of “Land!” was heard.
This little Pilgrim has also had a journey of sorts. It all started in March when I was back in Cape Town taking advantage of vast supplies of wondrous Chardonnay my remaining health insurance and proximity to my Doctors, amongst other things! The year before when I’d been there getting my residence visa’s for Portugal sorted out I’d done the same thing and also decided that it was time to put on my big girl panties and have a colonoscopy as well as the rest of the usual check-ups. That was a joy as no sooner had I gotten those big girl panties back on I was in surgery having a chunk of my colon chopped out. Suffice to say that experience had left me feeling a tad vulnerable. Anyway on this trip back it was time for the Girls to be checked again.    
No it’s not a comfortable procedure but its quick and really should be compulsory. The crap part is the size of the cubicle that they sit you down in to await your fate. And wait I did. Eventually I realized there was something amiss which was confirmed 2 hours later after 5 scans of the left gal and the need for a few new magazines to read. And still there was debate about who was seeing what where. If you spend longer than necessary in these types of places you see lots of very sick people and start alternating between counting your lucky stars and shitting yourself. 
Eventually I was taken through for an ultrasound and I don’t know what I remember being worse...the dude sticking his elbow right into the colon op scar or him saying they needed to get hold of a breast surgeon.
You know we can sit and postulate all we like about what we will or wont do in this or that situation but here’s the thing...in times like these you hit the wall of your own truth so hard that there is no option...you have to have an opinion and a plan. Okay first you have a panic. I was flying out 2 days later and in the midst of trying to keep a lid on my hysteria it hit me that I wasn’t just going overseas...I was going home. 
It was in that moment that I knew it was time to test out the medical system here on the island even though it, like the New World all those years ago was also filled with uncertainty, but hopefully not peril. I got the blessing from the woman who has been my Gynecologist forEVER and in a flash my entire medical history and all my scans were loaded onto a CD and I was good to go. One HAS to be thankful for the ease at which shit like that happens these days; at how small it makes the world and how international a language digitizing has become.
And I could not have asked for kinder care once I got back here. Slow...because we all bob along in the sea of the public health system so one does have to do a certain amount of waiting. One must therefore give thanks for the fact that one has a kindle! But they were thorough. All of the tests I’d had done in Cape Town they did again. They took 5 biopsies and could have waved me on my way saying all was well but no, they went the extra mile and booked me in for surgery to get an absolutely certain result. It is SO weird being so completely foreign in a hospital. The other 2 gals in the ward with me spoke no english so I really had no idea what they were having done. All I knew was that I was second in line for theatre. The younger one went in first and four hours later it was my turn so I knew it must have been major. And it was. Because her mother had died of breast cancer she was booked in for a mastectomy when her mammogram showed an inflammation - not cancer mind you, just an inflammation! So young!! Clearly these dudes don't take any chances!
And yes I’ve had problems with my scar and the stitches and the whole wound healing shit but this little Pilgrim is nothing but grateful for the fact that thus far she is intact. 
And at last...finally, late this November, tomorrow in fact, with firm purpose and a reliance on Divine Providence, I am hoping for the cry of “Negative!” when I have - hopefully - my final appointment.


  1. Reminds me that I needed to get one before my insurance ran out. And I didn't. Hope I don't live to regret that.

  2. Negative...negative...negative...negative...negative...

    It shall be my constant chant, my fervent hope and my silent prayer.

    Hugs from afar.

  3. Luckily mammograms are now free in SA. Hopefully they will soon become compulsory. Even so the cost of a test fades into nothing when compared with the costs of the alternative!
    This info might help you gals in the US:


    If the link doesn't work let me know.

  4. Early detection saved my life. I will never fear the word colonoscopy. Translated it means: Life. Okay, that's my translation, but it was my life.

    Hope all turns out well for you, too.

  5. Sweetie, I'm praying for you. God listens to me and a few bazillion other people too.


  6. Sending Prayers your way to hear NEGATIVE from those test.

  7. Nothing but best wishes from here. The t-shirt reminds me of one I painted for my friend when she had a bilateral mastectomy (unreconstructed). She's right proud of her new sporty aerodynamic chest, so I knew she wouldn't mind. It reads: "I lost ten pounds! ASK ME HOW!"